February 1 2024  |  Industry News

The technological transformation shaping the future of airports

By Hibah Noor

New tech will improve airport efficiency and traveler experience, giving them more time to shop, plus a more positive state of mind for shopping

As duty-free retailers strive to maximize their commercial potential amidst fluctuating travel trends and consumer preferences, adopting cutting-edge technologies and streamlined operations has never been more critical. The latest research from AeroCloud, an intelligent airport management platform, sheds light on the technological transformation poised to redefine airport ecosystems in 2024, with profound implications for the travel retail market.

Amidst the global challenges facing airports, such as airline disruptions and adverse weather conditions, AeroCloud's research indicates a pivotal shift towards technological advancement in the airport sector for 2024. The report, titled "Getting on the Runway to Growth" demonstrates a consensus among airport leaders on the urgency to modernize outdated systems, with 92% of the surveyed 200 global airport executives prioritizing technological upgrades. This shift is seen as crucial, with 60% acknowledging the risks of not investing in modern technologies like SaaS, automation, and AI to their operations over the next year.

New tech required

The research highlights a significant reliance on outdated methods, with 40% of airports still using basic tools like Excel and Word for critical operational tasks. This, coupled with the lack of collaborative platforms, hampers effective communication among key stakeholders. Additionally, the absence of real-time analytics and passenger-tracking capabilities is recognized as a major barrier to enhancing passenger experiences and operational responsiveness.

George Richardson, AeroCloud's CEO, emphasizes the need for airports to adopt advanced technologies to navigate post-Covid disruptions and enhance growth and passenger satisfaction. The report outlines four strategic areas for technological investment: upgrading data management to cloud-based systems for enhanced real-time collaboration, adopting common-use technologies to increase capacity and attract new airlines, implementing self-service and biometric solutions for a seamless passenger experience, and employing advanced analytics for optimizing passenger flow.

Enhanced experience

For duty-free retailers, these technological advancements are not just a window into the future of airport operations but a blueprint for elevating their business strategies. The move towards more efficient and interconnected airport infrastructures can significantly enhance the retail experience, offering duty-free businesses opportunities to innovate in customer engagement, product offerings and sales strategies. With the airport sector on the brink of a tech revolution, duty-free retailers are poised to reap the benefits of a more streamlined, data-driven, and customer-centric travel environment.

The transition towards a more streamlined and interconnected airport ecosystem promises to ease travelers' passage through various checkpoints, significantly reducing wait times and stress levels. This seamless journey not only grants passengers more leisure time but also puts them in a more relaxed state of mind, making them more inclined to explore and spend in duty-free retail spaces.

The implementation of self-service kiosks and biometric identification, in particular, plays a pivotal role in enhancing the shopping experience. By minimizing bottlenecks and simplifying the check-in and security processes, travelers can navigate the airport with greater ease and speed, affording them ample time to indulge in duty-free shopping. Furthermore, the enriched data from improved passenger flow analytics allows retailers to tailor their offerings and promotions to meet the specific preferences and needs of a diverse traveler demographic, thereby enhancing the appeal of duty-free shops.

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